Custom Work by Ann Summers
Custom work is both art and craft. We work hard to highlight your loves with the art, and to reflect your future dreams with the craft.
We’ll walk with you through the custom jewelry journey. Click below to get a quote.
The Process You’ll Love
We want pieces that line up with your vision. Over time we’ve developed a plan to make that happen with four easy steps. You can take all four with us, or come get steps one and two as we hunt for a piece you want!
The design process is dynamic and often involves feedback loops between these elements. Effective communication is essential to create those pieces you love.
Each element plays a critical role in turning ideas into tangible, beautiful, and breath-taking designs.
Call for a free walkthrough where we can understand your needs and come up with solutions. This is always a free conversation!
We will decide how to accomplish your goals. We can find your piece, design it, or a combination with your old pieces.
An exciting back-and-forth conversation using drawings, diamonds or gold sent to us, and then we get to a point you’ll love.
We send our pieces through the most secure means; ensuring you’ll receive your timeless piece and have peace as it’s sent!
Every customer is different, and each piece is a snapshot of a particular time and place, and feeling. Design is our story-telling. Browse here to see our stories.
Frequently Asked Questions
What services can Ann Summers Jewelry offer me?
We offer our clients great flexibility in the ways we provide jewelry. Decide which level of service and customization is right for you! We offer:
- Vintage Jewelry and Watches
- Pre-made and Pre-set Fine Jewelry
- Unset or Semi-set Fine Jewelry
- Fully Custom Studio-made Fine Jewelry
- Fully Custom 3d Printed CAD (Computer Aided Design) Designed and Manufactured Fine Jewelry
How do I request a vintage piece, a semi- or fully-custom piece, or a particular gemstone or diamond from Ann Summers Jewelry?
Ann Summers Jewelry is a private jewelry designer with an in-home studio. Start by scheduling a free call or in-person visit with us. Bring us your vision: your must-haves, your want-to-haves, and your budget. When we meet the first time, our clients talk, and we listen. We’ll ask questions, and together, we will explore photos, design motifs, and ideas. When we’ve confirmed that we understand your needs, we’ll fill out a New Customer Profile to organize your information, so that we can manage your project and communicate without guesswork.
How will I know the pricing for Vintage, Pre-made or Semi-set Jewelry?
Vintage, Pre-made or Semi-set Jewelry may involve a brokerage or finding fee, the cost of the piece which we will quote you, plus shipping and insurance. Our high standards demand good, reliable insurance and trustworthy, traceable shipping to keep our clients’ jewelry safe. These charges will vary, starting around $20.00 and increasing as the value of jewelry being shipped increases. Our firm policy is to use rapid, safe transport with good documentation. When we ship, our own insurer is one that exclusively serves the jewelry industry. Most packages are expedited through FedEx. The most important thing is for your piece of jewelry, stones and materials to move safely from place to place and ultimately into your hands. Even though misfortunes can still occur, we will never accept a lesser service that leaves your pieces unprotected.
Can you work with vintage jewelry?
We love Vintage Jewelry and even Vintage-style jewelry. Vintage pieces can add style to a single piece, or pair with modern pieces for a bit of whimsy. Vintage can showcase designs that are totally unique, that make people do a double take—like, “where did you find that?” We will take your budget and walk you through valuation, pricing levels, and the amount of time that may be needed to find what you’re dreaming of. We will then work with our network of vendors, estate auction contacts, and jewelry stores owners across the country to find what you have in mind. Depending on the item, this process could take a week, 6 months or more, depending on budget and rarity of the piece or pieces. Repairs, restoration or further customization may be needed, but we will work with you all along the way.
Can ASJ find pre-made jewelry for me?
Occasionally a client will give us their wish list and it might be that something very similar is available from a wholesaler. This rout can save a client money, and might also be available on a faster timeline than a custom project. We will search our wholesale vendors and assure that the pre-made design fits your criteria, such as a pair of earrings in the style you want, in the metal you want, with stones already set. If so, ASJ can give you a quote and get them ordered and shipped for pickup.
Can you work with unset or semi-set pieces?
For many clients, the jewelry they have in mind may not be available to buy “off the shelf.” But we might be able to find a semi-customizable piece that is available in different sizes, different metals, or with different types of stones. By choosing the options you prefer, we can order the piece from the wholesaler and have them do the semi-custom work. This type of wholesaler represents the largest category of retail jewelry sales. They not only provides pieces of ready-made jewelry, but also what are called blank mountings. These empty un-set mountings might be a ring or pendant with prongs or another type of empty setting, for which the customer might pick out a stone to be set, choose from different styles of bands, and even pick a fine metal for the setting: 18k yellow or white gold, 14k yellow or white gold, platinum, silver or some other metal.
Sometimes these pieces will be available with some stones set into them (maybe some small accent diamonds or gemstones in part of the band, or in a halo around the main stone.) If you went to a local jewelry store, they might order the blank semi-set mounting, and a main stone from the same wholesaler or else provide one from their own stock. ASJ can do any or all of that, and we can tailor your order depending on your budget and wishes. Educating our customers is of the utmost importance here, and we can help you weigh the different options and walk the customization toward what you want. Further customization might include a coating such a rhodium or an engraved inscription.
Can you do 100% hand-made custom pieces?
Truly custom pieces are a joy to produce. ASJ will work with you to clarify your vision and ideas. We will let you know what the possibilities are so that we can turn those ideas into a sketch, a design, and then into reality. Custom is the right choice for clients who want something that might be impossible to find fully or partially premade, moreover, many of our clients desire something so unique and personal that it demands a fully custom job. For the stone or stones to create your special piece, Ann Summers Jewelry will act as your practiced broker of fine gemstones and diamonds and you will be able to rely on our trusted network of vendors to find you the perfect stones at the right price. Whether you are looking for organic gems such as pearls or coral, fine gemstones of a certain color or species, or the perfect diamond at the right price, we can help you. For engagement rings and other pieces with stones that we provide, we always start with the stone or stones and build the piece around them.
Read more about what types of custom jewelry are available, and what goes into custom pricing below. Or connect with us for questions.
What can you do with pearls?
ASJ loooooves pearls. We order and string or create other jewelry from pearls of a wide range of colors, grades, shapes, sizes and prices. Pearls can be casual, modern and fun, and they look even better when they are combined with gemstones and incorporated with a custom clasp or other design element. We have access to drilled pearls for strands and bracelets, half-drilled pearls, which can be backed to turn into stud earrings, and undrilled pearls which can be set into metal just like gemstones and diamonds. Pearls in all of their myriad shapes, colors and sizes, are ideal for wedding jewelry or special occasions, whatever your style is. We love designing with pearls to match wedding dresses, attendant outfits, and men’s suits as well.
What are other types of custom construction?
Some custom work goes beyond stringing gemstone or diamond beads or pearls and enters into bench construction. Our process can get as custom as you want. We don’t engrave or cut gemstones here, but we have contacts and vendors that do these things every day. We do not cast metal here, as a rule, and we do not print digital 3d metals designs, but we have trusted partners who work with our designs to make gorgeous jewelry that is like you--one of a kind. You have so many options, and we can explore them all to help you know what is possible, and what is practical. Sometimes the best option is to actually have us do the benchwork. We can contract bits of the work out to our partners, but we can also make settings in gold or silver or other metals, set stones into settings, tumble and polish, and hand you the final piece.
What is the price for bench and studio construction?
Pricing for stringing pearls or gemstone beads is $40 to 50.00 per strand plus materials cost, unless the project is multi-strand or very elaborate. We can also change out old hardware, re-string and even change your clasp, and we’ll let you know how much the extra materials and labor cost is. Our bench-rate for more complex multi-strand jobs that can take days is $30.00 per hour.
Occasionally, we find that making a piece by hand, from silver, gold or other metals is the best option. We make earrings for shows, and a lot of our clients love our pearl strands and pearl/gemstone necklaces and order earrings to match. This bench-construction is often wirework and welding, or it may involve setting gemstones in a soldered, bench-fabricated piece. Earrings, bracelets and cuffs, pendants and rings, can all be done in-house. We metal-form, stone-set, solder, arc-weld and fine polish our custom pieces, as well as providing the pearls or gemstones for a fully custom piece. Bench pricing varies from $30.00 per hour (for simple wired earrings, for example) to $50.00 per hour for more complex bench jobs that require multiple steps. We will quote you prices for the stones as well as the raw materials to go along with the labor for a final price. **Often we are not absolutely sure how much a project will cost until we have sourced the materials, but we can get close. It is important for our clients to state, for a particular project, what their budget is, so that we can tell you whether or not we can do the work for that amount or less. For fully custom pieces that require us to source and order stones and materials, we will bill you 50% of the final cost of the project. This payment is essential to make sure that we are not ordering, insuring and shipping items that may not be used in the end.
What have you done with re-designing or restoring?
ASJ loves all types of jewelry, but revitalizing and repurposing unloved and unused jewelry is the one form of customization that we find most emotionally fulfilling. Re-design can be changing out a stone or a setting, re-sizing or redesigning, or even restoring something that dates from a past event, loved one, or even a thrifting or auction find. Inherited or long-held pieces are especially fun to update or upgrade. We can add stones, upgrade them, or change the entire design. We can make earrings out of cufflinks, pendants out of tie tacks and rings or bracelets out of almost anything. We’ve made jewelry out of family sterling flatware, bracelets out of necklace strands, pendants out of rings and we’ve redesigned and reset dozens of wedding sets from earlier times. Not everything that is old is worth more, but it may be priceless to our client. But not all pieces can be reworked because of the design, since not all pieces are solid fine metals (they might be coated or filled) and many simply do not lend themselves to restoration or resetting. But we will help you, to produce a piece that doesn’t gather dust, but gains sentimental value and compliments.
How do we choose materials?
While ASJ does not keep gem stock on the premises, we do have some gemstones in safe-keeping and can show you some examples to help you narrow down your choices. You might have a birthstone or a color in mind, or perhaps you want something, but you are not even sure what is out there. The internet is full of photos, but it takes expertise to know what you are looking at. We can coach you through the often confusing world of gem valuation and buying. While ASJ does not do appraisals, (see the tab about appraisals) but we are very capable in valuation, and we will lend you our knowledge. We will also lend you the singly most crucial part of the gem business: our trust in our connections. Trust goes both ways, so we make sure our clients can clearly articulate exactly what they want and don’t leave our partners guessing. We’ll help you narrow down your choices, and then do all we can to fulfill those things in the proper time-line. So, whether you want a pair of custom opal cufflinks in sterling, an emerald engagement ring, a platinum band set with natural diamonds or a killer string of pearls, ASJ can make it happen.
Where do you get gemstones and diamonds?
As I tell my clients, I do not have a ruby or diamond mine under my house. That would be pretty cool, but alas; this means that gemstones and diamonds for a client piece come from various sources (this is where shipping and insurance play a role.) You might already have stones in jewelry that you’ve been given, inherited, or simply no longer have use for. You might have a stone that you’ve bought, or a certain stone in mind that we can help you find. Whatever the case, we can advise you on the best way to show those sparkles off. And since we have no gem mine of our own, we go yearly to gem shows (including the Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show, which is the largest gem show in the world) and we order gemstones from a wide network of gem dealers, jewelers, and even mines. We have developed our reputation with these trusted contacts and partners over years and over many transactions. Good reputations require personal commitment, thorough communications, on-time payments, swift and purposeful remedy of problems which often arise, follow-through on promises and responsibilities and giving useful actionable feedback. We ask that our customers honor the same model.
How do we find the perfect stone? Can you coach me?
There are gems and then there are gems. Most clients do not understand that diamonds, just for example, are available to wholesalers at a huge range of prices. We can search for diamonds or any other precious or colored stones throughout all of our sources, and we can explain the whys and wherefores of the pricing, so that you can decide what you want. A fairly recent trend is “salt and pepper diamonds,” often tagged with some other marketing term like “galaxy diamonds.” They may have lots of inclusions, and may not be the sort of super-clear, near-colorless, sparkly cut but, hey, they are still diamonds! And other gemstones have analogous conditions. We’ll show you that buying stones is not just about the 4 C’s. There is so much more to know. We will help you with the pricing, value and ethics of gemstone buying and metal refining. If something is important to you, it’s important to us.
What is CAD?
We developed our computer aided design (CAD) program to give us and our clients more flexibility in design, and more control over costs and quality. Our clients needn’t guess what their jewelry will look like. They will be given a true-to-life 3-d professional digital rendering of their jewelry, allowing for at least one alteration without further cost. Any later alterations after the render is complete will be costed accordingly. After we are on the same page with your design, and materials such as stones and metal, then your rendering and a work order will be sent to our 3d printing partner. They will print the design as a 3-dimensional blank mounting in wax, and then cast and fire the piece using the lost-wax vacuum casting process. After the piece is cast in the metal of our choosing, it will be finished and polished, and the stones will either be set by our partners or returned to us for us to set. The casting and printing fee is based on the complexity and size of the piece, but we can give you a ballpark estimate. We will receive the piece and inspect it to check the setting and the quality. If there are large stones, we will set them here. Again, shipping and insurance are vital to our business, with the whole “no diamond mine under my house” issue. Each piece may require two to three shipping and insurance charges. We will cost each one out and agree before ordering and shipping. Prices can range from around $35 to $250, depending on value. We use a 3rd Party Shipper/Insurer that is a trusted name in the jewelry industry and our shipments are normally expedited by Federal Express unless a special situation arises. Shipping and insurance does increase the price, but we would never allow a piece to go un-insured, whether it is valued at 200, 2000, or 20,000 dollars.
What is the price for CAD?
For Custom Cad work, as with everything else, our first conversation is free. Call, text, or email to book your free consult today or whenever you are ready. The search for pre-made or partially custom pieces starts with photos, maybe some sketches. Then we will begin the search, which is called brokerage. We can broker whole pieces, gemstones or diamonds, and fine metals. The length of search will depend on what is currently on the market for sale, and the rarity of the item. Brokerage is priced at %15 of the total cost before tax. If you want custom work, we will work together to produce a sketch. If CAD work is involved, we will do your designs, with our in-house, world-class CAD training, to produce a design that will fit you, and that will fit your stones with computer aided 3d accuracy and updated technology. CAD work is based on the CAD designer’s time at $40.00 per hour, and will increase with complexity and intricacy.
How does CAD work?
After a sketch, a search, some introspection and decisions on your part, we will start to make design magic. ASJ is now trained in CAD, or Computer Aided Design for jewelry. We took this step because, being stone experts, we always know the microscopic details of stones. We combine that knowledge with our understanding of metals, practical construction, design and design history, our abilities in several 3d softwares, and our close relationship with a 3d printing and metal casting expert, to bring you the best design that shows your personality, for the piece you’ve been dreaming about. If we do a CAD design for you, we will create the design, send you realistic renderings, and allow you to alter the design (which could result in a change in pricing or not—we will always tell you which) or accept it. Once the CAD has been signed off, we will send it to our production team, who will produce a 3d print of the mounting in wax, and then cast the piece in the metal you’ve chosen.
Do you charge per hour for questions?
There are no dumb questions. Since this conversation requires a 2-way exchange, we’ll encourage your questions. Clients will often begin with a disclaimer like, “I don’t know much about sapphires (or whatever),” but honestly, why would anyone know very much about an industry that prides itself on secrecy, mystery and an aura of arcane knowledge requiring double-secret-gemstone-lore and fine metals alchemy that is never shared outside the tiny community of “people who know.” Ann Summers Custom Jewelry is about transparency, education, meeting expectations and above-board dealing. The thing we like least about any vendor we deal with, or seller at gem shows is the sort of silly legerdemain one sometimes sees, when we (pre-qualified buyers) are treated like tots in a crystal shop, and not given the common courtesy of knowing the price of what we are buying. As my mother used to say, “That is some shady s****.” My comment is always, “Well, I can’t afford that, since it doesn’t have a price.” We treat our clients with the same courtesy.
Can you reuse or refine my gold?
ASJ offers the further service of reusing or refining metals. If we are reusing them, they may be used as part of the piece, incorporated during benchwork. If you are bringing pieces in gold to refine (we do not refine other metals, since it really isn’t worth the shipping cost) we will weigh them, and credit you the amount on the day you hand them to us. Later we will send them to our metals refiner, along with all of our scrap from benchwork. If you have a piece that is being altered, we can often offset some of the cost of new stones or design with gold from the original piece.
Does ASJ do repairs?
No, we will, however, do a repair as part of a redesign or a restoration. Most standard repairs such as ring sizing or replacing or re-tipping prongs are much more economical for clients if they are done by a local small or family jewelry store. These shops will have big laser welders that make repair work quick and easy, and they intake a lot of jewelry this way. So, our advice for repairs is to take them to a shop that does lots of repair work.
Does ASJ give refunds?
We only give refunds in the case of a fault in the piece, which we will rectify if it is determined that it is our fault. If it’s a quick fix, we will discuss it and often help you out with no charge.
Does ASJ have jewelry for sale?
We do not carry a lot of already-made pieces, but we will do an occasional art show or vendor event, such as a trunk show or a non-profit fund-raising show, as a marketing or research event, or just to get out of the studio and talking to people. For these events, we will make inventory. We also sell through the ITEX trade website, providing artisan jewelry to our fellow trade members as one of our lines of business and marketing. But of course, we can find or make anything you might have in mind.
Does ASJ do shows?
As exhibitors, ASJ does very limited events, either as marketing or as a contribution to a worthy non-profit cause. We do, however, attend exhibitions and shows to buy and learn. We go to the Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Shows every year, as we have done for almost 20 years. These shows comprise the largest gem buying and selling event in the world, and are some of the best opportunities to learn new mine sources for gems and diamonds, to speak to vendors and miners, to take technical training, and to understand the jewelry business on so many different levels. Every year, we learn, we network, and we see what styles and designs are trending, what is new, what is being done in the highest echelons of gem cutting awards, fine jewelry design awards, new jewelry technologies and so many other exciting aspects of our industry.
Where did Ann Summers learn this jewelry trade?
Man, we just learn any time, anywhere and any way we can. Oddly, in a business where people can be very aloof, exclusive and close-mouthed with their knowledge, we find that if we show up, share our own knowledge and show interest and gratitude, it is usually the case that most professionals, from dealers to gemmologists, are unbelievably generous with what they know. We’ve taken classes in person and online, with artists and technicians from all over the world. Gem traders, miners, fellow jewelers, goldsmiths, silversmiths, CAD designers and more. And we are hungry! Hungry for anything interesting, magical, gorgeous, sparkly, clever, technical, practical—whatever can get us to that special piece, that special moment when we hand over the piece that our client has been dreaming of, and hear them say, “Wow. This is what I’ve always wanted.” And honestly, that’s why we do what we do.